Order this... The Hotel Manisses Glambake
Chef Michael Hervieux is living a dual island life. Block Island is where Chef is spending this summer season as executive chef at the Hotel Manisses, creating menus that utilize farm and ocean-to-table product as well as food concepts such as the Manisses Glambake. Take the typical New England Clambake off the beach, subtract the smokey smell on your clothes, hands cut up from breaking down lobsters, and sticky fingers from s’mores, add in the serene backyard of the Manisses, along with all the traditional food and none of the mess and voila — you have a Glambake. The rest of the restaurant menu has also been re-worked and rotates every other week, focusing on nightly specials that use the freshest seafood as possible. In addition, Chef has introduced a brunch menu as well as a daily raw bar, small plates and craft cocktail menu that starts at 3 p.m. every day.
When he was in Puerto Rico last winter, Chef Mike and his wife Kristin traveled there for him to participate in a Chef’s Dinner series in the Ocean Park neighborhood near San Juan. This winter they plan to go back, and Mike will also be instructing at a cooking school.
Here’s more from Chef Mike:
What’s your earliest food memory that made you think “I want to work in a restaurant?”
My mother was a waitress for years at a breakfast and lunch place and my dad would take me and my brother in once a week. I loved sitting at the counter and watching the guys in the kitchen as slips were flying in and they pumped out the service. The waitresses and cooks had their own short hand for orders, it was exciting to see it all come together.
What is the one food you never want to eat again?
What made you want to be a chef on Block Island?
After years of managing kitchens in Providence and Newport, my wife and I had an opportunity to come out here a few years ago. It's a beautiful place to live with a great sense of community.
If you’re eating out on the island, what other restaurant do you go to and what do you order?
With my current schedule I rarely get out for dinner. If I do sneak away, I hit up Calaveras. Chicken — their tortilla soup is pure soul food, great smoky spicy flavor from the chipotle and the flautas de papa I could eat every day. I’ll eat anything with pork, head on prawns or the coconut soup. Great spot to go to with friends and just order plate after plate to share. Usually because I get out late I hit up a slice or two at Poor People’s Pub and catch up with Brian and Brandon at the bar.
What’s your favorite dish to cook right now that you wish everyone would order at least once?
The New England Fish Pot is my favorite. This is our version of a traditional New England style lobster bake in one dish. We have native littlenecks, sweet corn, Gaspar's chorizo, claw and knuckle meat simmered in a lemon herb broth and finished with a grilled lobster tail. Quintessential summer dish and best washed down with a Narragansett Fresh Catch.
What would you want to eat for your last meal?
My grandmother's French pork pie and mashed potatoes. She made it every year at Christmas and it’s simple comfort food.
I grew up eating clambakes on Cape Cod and love the whole experience of slathering ears of corn with butter and salt, digging knuckle meat out of a lobster and dunking it into melted butter, prying open clams and scooping out the bellies, and chopping up fat sausages steamed over a fire. It is, however, an experience that requires a lobster bib and a fair amount of effort on the part of the diner. It was delightful to sit down in the tranquil patio area of the Manisses and be served a dish where the aforementioned elements of the clambake come together beautifully in their signature New England Fish pot, where a succulent 1 1/4 pound lobster sits with native littlenecks, grilled chorizo and local corn off the cob in a lemon white wine broth flavored with clam juice, parsley, thyme and rosemary. The lobster tail meat is grilled while the claws are steamed, imparting the tail with a smokey taste that reminds me of a beach fire pit on a summer’s night. The littlenecks taste of the ocean they’re pulled from, the meat of the lobster tasted sweet and was perfectly cooked. The spicy bite of the chorizo was a great balance for the tender kernels of corn and scallions which were scattered through the dish. The sauce was as much a part of this dish as the lobster, it was light, lemony and made the seafood flavors bright and clean. One of the best parts of this dish was the beautiful presentation and ease with which you can eat it — every part of the lobster is in it with none of the work; I would have been comfortable eating it in a white linen dress. New menu, new chef, new versions of your favorite foods — check out the Manisses for a great dining experience.